Forza 4 is a simulation racing game developed by Turn 10 Studios and exclusive to the XBOX 360. It is the fourth game in the franchise and features better graphics, added realism and additional features if you have the Kinect. When Forza originally entered the simulation racing scene it was up against the grand daddy of them all, Gran Turismo. Now, many years later, Forza has shown that it not only has the chops to stand up against its PlayStation branded competitor, but it has completely surpassed it in almost every way.
Welcome to Forza
Forza 4 immediately starts out with you in the steering wheel of a sleek and powerful Ferrari as you race down a snowy mountain. If you are a fan of previous Forza games then you are in for a treat, because the first thing you will notice is the major improvement on the graphics. The difference between Forza 3 and Gran Turismo 5 was night and day, Forza just could not compare. Many (*ahem* Sony Fanboys) even called it a technical limitation of the XBOX 360. After a few minutes of seeing Forza 4, it's easy to debunk that theory.
I actually replayed the opening race a few times just to soak it all in. Everything about it was breathtaking, the scenery, the way the lights reflect off the cars, the detail and even the cockpit view. I could not wait to get started on my simulation racing career. My excitement was short lived after choosing my first car, a low powered Japanese import that nobody has ever heard of. I know this is some leftover standard formula from the 90's but does every single simulation racer have to do this?
I was a tad worried about the single player portion of this game because for some odd reason, single player simulation racers always have boring and generic presentations. I understand this is a racing game and the actual racing should be where developers put most attention, but it's also a video game. It would be nice to have some type immersion where you feel like you are an actual race car driver. Thankfully Forza 4 moves in the right direction with it's World Tour.
In World Tour you race in seasons and you get to pick from 3 different races which can vary depending on the car you drive. What is nice about this is if you happen to be in love a particular car then you can race as many races as you would like in the season using that car. If you decide to switch cars then the available races will change to match the car. This is great because you can continue your career using any car of your choice. Although it is a good step in the right direction, the presentation still feels a bit lacking. I don't know exactly what to do to spice it up, but I'll know it when I see it.
Turn 10 made some interesting improvements on it's leveling system. First off, you get a lot more credits than before, especially racing online. I am not a great racer and many times I will be on the DNF (did not finish) when racing online but I was still getting a decent amount of credits. In addition to extra money, every time you level up you get to a free car of your choosing. In just several hours of playing World Tour and some online games I already racked up a good number of cars and credits.
The Affinity system is quite charitable also. I am a big fan of Toyotas and the MR2 is one of my favorite cars. After hours of racing Toyotas both online and offline I gained affinity with them. I got to a point where all upgrades were free! I have no idea when it happened but I can upgrade that MR2 at will.
What makes this refined system so great is that it doesn't feel like you need to grind your way through the races. It' one of the major complaints about the Gran Turismo series and even previous Forza games. Turn 10 did an amazing job with modifying the mechanics to make it more fun for you.
Choose your Difficulty
Just like previous games in the series you are given many different assist options. This way you can tailor the game to be as difficult or as easy as you want. The best of the best will turn all of these assists off, set the transmission to manual w/ clutch and play with simulation damage. Most of us will end up turning some of these assists on. For no reason should you ever turn the braking assist on and if you do, you seriously need to rethink playing a racing game.
As usual Forza brought back its sophisticated tuning options. You can tune everything here, tire pressure, transmission, camber, spoiler settings and all kinds of stuff that I have no idea what it means. I am not a hardcore racer enthusiast so my area of expertise is very limited. However, I do notice that the racer community does appear to embrace the tuning of Forza 4 and if they like it, then I like it too. If you are like me and have no idea how to tune, you can always buy tuning setups from the community via the auction house.
The auction house is what really separates this game from all other simulation racers. It's already great that you can buy and sell your cars online but you can do so much more. If you lack the skill, patience and time to create your own designs, you can buy them at the auction house. I've seen everything from anime characters, official race cars sponsored by Monster, Red Bull, Sparco, etc..., Gears of War cars, XBOX 360 logos, half naked ladies, heck I even own a Delorean with a convincing Back to the Future skin on it.
The best way to describe the new Kinect integration is by saying "Good effort." Sure it's pretty neat that you can play sitting down and placing your arms up in the air as if you are holding a steering wheel. But throttle and brake is controlled by the CPU so all you can do is steer. After a short time your arms get tired so this is something you would only do a couple of times. Forza 4 has a new head tracking feature which seems good on paper but falls flat. What is supposed to happen is when you turn your head slightly to the left or to the right the view moves along with it. This is supposed to give you the illusion that you are inside the car and you can control the view. But when I am driving a real car and I turn my head left, I actually look left so it doesn't really help me any. I decided to completely switch it off.
If you have some racing friends, or if you meet some like minded racers, you can be part of a Racing Club. You can race other clubs for some friendly (or unfriendly) competition or just gain the benefits of having a plethora of racing friends at your fingertips. Maybe I was just lucky but most online games I played were clean races but you still get the occasional moron that likes to play bumper cars. You also have to deal with the people that vote off racers for no apparent reason. I was once kicked from a room without actually even racing. I joined the room, watched the current race (quietly), then immediately got voted off in the lobby.
The 4th game in the Forza series is a superb racing game and is a big step the right direction. It has improved in almost every way, most notably in the graphics but also in gameplay. The racing physics feel more real than ever and due to numerous assists, the difficulty can be tailored to fit any player. All of the online modes are solid and very easy to get into (unlike the antiquated Gran Turismo 5 lobby system) and there are plenty of racers online. If your're a big online player (like me) then you could play your entire career online and you wouldn't miss a thing. I would have liked to have seen improvements in the single player presentation and better Kinect integration but it doesn't ruin this amazing game in any way. Just be careful because the first night I played this game, I was only supposed to do a few races. I ended up playing all night.
Review is a segment about my opinion on things. I like things, and you like things too. Before you run off and buy something, you should check out my review. Chances are if I like it, it’s probably awesome.